Labor of Love
The HenwoodFamily leads by example.
Whitney and Justin Henwood lived in Haiti in 2012, working on some construction projects after the 2010 earthquake. At the time they had six children and now have eight. They are currently living in Franktown. While in Haiti, a leader in their church group drew their attention to a village high in the mountains that was seriously struggling to make ends meet called St. Roch. The Henwood family decided to do something about it and Believe in Haiti was born! It is a 501c3 non-profit organization and is a foundation to help Haitian families to improve their lives through donations and education.
The Believe in Haiti website gives this statement: “Imagine a place where water is not safe to drink, food is scarce and expensive, poverty presents itself at every corner, and families are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. That’s Haiti. In the wake of the tragic earthquake of 2010, most Haitians and their families are still struggling to rebuild their lives. The devastation of this historical event only amplified the destitution and poverty of the people. But Haiti is resilient. And we Believe in Haiti.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JENSEN SUTTA
The organization has set up six main programs to help the people of Haiti to rise above their circumstances. An education program providesthe necessities of elementary through high school learning for the people of Haiti because there is no public education system. The feeding program provides food for hungry children. An English-learning program helps people learn English speaking, writing and reading skills to provide for more employment opportunities. The sewing program has taught many young people sewing skills to save money for their own needs and to help find jobs or start businesses. There is also a dental clinic that is set up to provide dental care when the country allows. The agricultural program teaches the skills of farming. Families from the education program volunteer to work there. The farm also provides income to the entire organization and helps to supplement the feeding program. All the programs supportand sustain each other.
Whitney and Justin started Believe in Haiti ten years ago and it has since grown to include an entire board who run the organization. Their goal has been to help the local people set up systems that can be perpetual. The Henwoods have made it a family effort, with many of their kids being part of visions trips to help the cause. Their family, as well as people in the Haitian community, our local community, and people from around the country have made this a regular part of their lives. Many people volunteer time or donate funds and items. Their service and selflessness have had an amazing impact on people both here and there.
The board is careful that volunteers do not take the place of hiring local people for jobs. The goal is to provide the tools needed and monetary help, but teach the local people to continue to run the programs.
For many years Believe in Haiti had a vision to build a central location to house the many outreach programs. The organization received a grant from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to build this long-awaited need. The Hope Center construction was completed last year. It provides space for running the various programs, as well as tutoring rooms, a library, housing local directors, safe storage for donated supplies, and more!
Last year Believe in Haiti served 36,000 meals and delivered 5,300 meals, 500 tarps, 15,000 feet of rope, and 200 pounds of clothing. They educated 252 students at 3 schools and taught 142 sewing classes and 27 English students. Parents of nearly half of the students helped on the farm each month to raise 20 goats and tend crops and 30 fruit trees.
Although it can sometimes be a very trying and expensive effort,those that support it give so much and have been deeply touched by it. Whitney described, “I have learned and grown and my perspective has been so greatly adjusted by working with people. I’ve definitely learned and benefited the most from it. I love it.”
The organization would like to publicly thank the Ponderosa soccer program and the Chapparal soccer and basketball programs who donated enough uniforms for over 20 teams! There are not enough schools to play sports as a school vs. school concept in Haiti, but different classes within the school play against each other. At this time soccer cleats are being collected to help the sports cause.
To help with this incredible ongoing effort, visitbelieveinhaiti.org. The greatest help is monetary donations so supply and shipping costs remain low and purchases support the Haitian economy. A child in Haiti can be fed a year of meals with just a $216 donation. There are also currentlyover 100 students who need a sponsor for their education. For $24 per month, sponsoring a student will provide them with tuition and a uniform plus supplementing the teacher pay.
Other service projects that are needed at times are school supply and hygiene kits, donations of 2-yard sections or more of fabric and soccer cleats. Check the website for opportunities and specifics.